Gold was one of the best performing assets of 2020 reaching an historical high of US$2,067.15/oz as investors looked to shelter from COVID-19 by squirrelling their money into physical and physical-linked gold products.
It was a strategic play in times of unprecedented political and social uncertainty and one that has fuelled a big rise in exploration and junior mining activity worldwide.
But as the COVID dust settles, it seems the shine is rapidly going off gold for ethical investors and the next generation of gold producers is looking to technology, like Clean Mining’s cyanide and mercury-free extraction process, to set them up for the future and, in doing so, help them revitalise gold’s appeal for modern investors.
Clean Mining’s world first solution completely eliminates the lethal cyanide and mercury traditionally used to dissolve gold from ore. Instead, it replaces it with a benign and re-useable inorganic compound, thiosulphate based, a non-toxic, non-flammable and water-soluble material. When used with a de-watering system, produces a dry tailing, which can be stacked or spread. This negates the need for a tailings dam and the costs involved for building, maintaining and remediation.
The technology was conceptualised by Australia’s leading scientific agency, CSIRO, and is being commercialised by Clean Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group.
An important aspect of that process is demonstrating that the new clean gold process can deliver the goods commercially, as well as environmentally. Under the watchful eye of CSIRO, more than 50 different ore samples have been tested from mines worldwide.
The results have been impressive, matching the most efficient traditional cyanide techniques to extract in the region of 80-95% in various ore types with fast leach kinetics.
Currently, less than ten percent of the world’s gold production is used for industrial applications or to build things that will help make the world a cleaner, greener place. The balance is still primarily used for jewellery and wealth storage and many conscience-driven investors are finding it harder to reconcile the long history of environment damage caused by traditional gold mining and tailings disposal.
Instead, values-based investors are turning their attention to other commodities, like nickel, aluminium and lithium, because of the role those materials are playing in sustainable development and mitigating climate change.
Lithium, copper and nickel have been earmarked as essential minerals by Governments in the US and Europe, because they are needed for new technologies like electric vehicles and batteries to store renewable power. Even iron ore and coal are rating ahead of gold in the sustainability stakes – until there is a viable alternative – because they are still needed to achieve at least two of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Clean Mining’s clean gold technology is helping reshape the gold industry’s environmental footprint in an efficient and economical way, proving that clean, green mining doesn’t have to cost the earth. Find out more.